Monday, July 20, 2015

Hot! No, Wait, It's Not

Keeping My Promise Not to Complain

Yes, it's hot. Temperatures are nearly at 100F here in New Jersey. But I swore after the past winter I was not going to complain about the heats. So I'm not complaining. I am just noting that it's hot.

This morning, I woke up to the sounds of my computer printer making strange noises. Then I realized it was because the power was out. No electricity is not a good thing under any circumstances, but in extreme weather, it's even worse.

The house was relatively comfortable because the AC had been working all night. But here in the country, no electricity means no water. Again, not an issue short term as I have bottled water, but what about the horses?

It would have been OK if I had filled the water trough before going to bed last night, but I hadn't. So, here we were with a power outage, temperatures heading up and only about four inches of water in the trough.

Not to panic. I called the power company who had no idea we had no power--not a good sign and headed out to feed the Boys.

Now was the time to try out my new generator set up. I'd paid a handsome sum of money to get things installed so I could run a power cord from my new 8000w generator in the garage to the house powering everything in my electrical panel. Then, I'd finally managed to get a super good battery for the generator and also paid to finally get the darn thing up to spec as far as power output. Now was the time to put it all to the test.
Took a bit more work than I expected. Had to drag the generator to the front of the garage--the handlebar for the wheels don't lock in place--then I had to lie down in the grass to see how to plug in the power cord to the house. Then I had to fiddle with the circuit breaker on the panel to keep it from tripping--it was set up so the main had to be off before the generator could power up the panel. But with a little extra ingenuity, I worked it all out. My nifty generator started right up and KAZZAM!  I had power, and more than enough to run the pump in the barn so I could water the Boys.

Power was out for several hours, as it turned out a tree had fallen on the wires down the road.  In fact, I ended up going to the pool for a nice long swim before it came back on. (I shut off the generator when I left the property.)  BUT, in the meantime, I guess the tree had also knocked out all my Comcast connections.

Bummer. That meant no TV, no Internet, and no telephone. So again--cell phones be blessed--I called Comcast to report the outage. They set up a service appointment for tomorrow, but in the meantime were going to send repair crews out to see if the wires were damaged.

Home from swimming, powered up again, I discovered that at least my phone service and TV were restored as well, but my Internet was still not working.

I then spent at least 45 minutes on the phone with a Comcast tech trying to connect only to come to the conclusion that I needed a new modem. Guess the power outage had fried something. Headed off to the Comcast service center about 5 miles away and got a brandy new modem, no questions asked.

Took a while to get it working, as it had to set itself and then, when I finally did get Internet service I had to go online to set up the rest of the connection. It was actually surprisingly easy--so far, at least.

Just got an automated call from Comcast checking to see if I needed the technician to come out, but I canceled. For once, I was able to get things working all on own.

So, good things come from bad. I discovered that my generator is a gem, the system works just fine with the little glitch of the tripping switch, and I succeeded in my own technical troubleshoot.

Well, add in the swim, and my adventures took up the entire day.

Can't say I was bored today, that's for sure.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Cat Distraction

Furry Friends

OK, so I am the Cat Lady of fictional fame. I have seven cats. I'm not sure how I managed to acquire so many except that at least two of them are strays who showed up in my back yard. One, Patchadoodle, was a long hair, not, to mind mind suited to a "life on the street," and the other, Cocopuff is the last of her family tossed out sometime around one of the hurricanes that hit here.
Patrick on top, Patches below on the big cat tree.
 Reggie and DJ are brothers I adopted together. Patrick O'Paddicats replaced Cocopuff's brother when he had to be euthanized due to serious medical issues. Scooter is a gray and white tuxedo cat, essential to my feline color scheme. And last but not least, Church, another rescue is my obligatory solid gray cat.

Today, I am sorry to say, Church had a vet visit to have part of his tail amputated. I'm not quite sure what happened, but several week ago, he sustained some kind of tail injury at the tip of his tail. I do have my suspicions. For some reason, Patrick likes to bully Church. Church never liked him from the beginning and once Patrick gained some size and muscle, he decided he would try his best to make Church's life miserable. Most of the time, there is an uneasy truce between them, but at least once a day, Patrick decides to chase Church.  I think now that on one of those days, Patrick managed to catch Church's tail and bite it.

At any rate, despite several vet visits, antibiotics, and one of those plastic collars, the wound just didn't seem to heal--at least not well enough to ever grow fur again.  So today, I took Church to the vet for surgery.  The injury was only about an inch of the tip of his tail, but apparently, in order to do the job properly with enough muscle and skin to close the wound after the amputation, the vet needed to take more than half my little boy's tail.  Surgery did go well, and now, with considerably less tail than when he left, Church is recovering in the sun room, wearing a new color and a much better outlook on life. I'm sure his injury hurt, and, although amputation is a traumatic solution, he is already a bit perkier.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the house, I seem to have discovered the perfect "object of distraction" for naughty and energetic orange Patrick. (Are orange tabbycats overly frisky?)  I've actually had this toy before and my other cats seemed to tire of it after a day or two. In its new incarnation--it used to be called "Undercover Mouse," This version is called "Cat's Meow" and the only reason I bought it was because it was on a closeout shelf for under $10.

Anyhow, it's already been several weeks since I bought it and Patrick is absolutely enamored of it. He insists I turn it on so the little ball on a sick goes erraticly round and round underneath the circle of fabric. Cocopuff and Patch play with it off and on too but not quite with Patrick's enthusiasm.

However, it's Reggie who seems to want to dominate the game. If he's around when I turn on the "mouse machine," (It's already on its second set of batteries) he puts his paw out to trap the mouse  and then, when all else fails, lies on the yellow cover.  The mouse has some kind of mechanism to reverse direction when it hits an obstacle, but I'm not quite sure a big black cat lying on it was exactly the kind of obstacle the manufacturer had in mind. At any rate, I took a picture of Reggie the Mousekiller doing his job.

You can see Patrick off to the side as well. By now, he'd given up on the game since Reggie'd taken over. 

Oh, and those two little brown and white striped blobs on the rug are Patrick's fetch mice. I throw, he fetches and then I throw again. They are the only toys he will chase and carry back. 

Cats. Who knows what's going on in their minds. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Favors and Promises

Sometimes I Wonder

If I tell someone I will do something, I rarely go back on my word. The only exceptions would be a dire emergency I had not anticipated.  I wish things worked both ways.

This is typical of what seems to keep happening to me when I get into the "Sure, I'll do you a favor" situations.

A good friend needed a special piece of farm equipment for an art project.  I had an antique harrow stashed away somewhere. When I mentioned it, my friend said it sounded great. So I hunted around for about a half hour looking for it, and finally discovered it tucked away behind the garage where my tree trimmer had put it.  I pulled it out. The wheels were rusted, so I got some grease, greased them and got it rolling. Then I took a series of pictures of it and sent them to my friend. She was delighted, it seemed. The harrow would be perfect.

Flower Wheelbarrow Clip ArtDays passed, weeks passed. Events in my friend's life took up her time, but she kept telling me she'd be out to use the harrow. It's been sitting in my hay barn for all that time, in the way, just waiting for her. Today, I mentioned it again, knowing that things had settled back down in her life.  She told me she was thinking of using my barn as the subject instead and "That old cart or wheelbarrow I saw there when I visited you."

All the "harrowquest" was for naught.

Case #2.  I got a panicked call from another friend. Did I have a cage to hold a cat for a few days? A stray at her barn had scratched her and she wanted to contact animal control to take care of it....this was on a weekend. Sure, I had a cage. She'd need to put it together as it was one of those collapsible ones.  No problem. She'd be by the next morning to get it.

I dug the cage out of the garage--I store lots of things there--and remembering the last time I'd assembled the thing, that is was a pain to do.  So I proceeded to spend the next hour and a half separating the metal looped hooks, sorting out the parts and putting the darn thing together.  Then I left the cage by my back door for my friend to pick up as requested.

[cat And Two Kittens] Clip ArtThe day passed, the night passed, another day passed and there the cage sat. Finally, I called my friend.  "Oh, I don't need it now," she said. "I took the cat to the shelter myself and she had a litter of kittens. No wonder she was upset with me."

One year, I was asked to do a special children's sermon for the Christmas season. I wrote a story poem, and my choir director added some musical interludes. We were all ready. Last minute, plans changed. Someone else did the sermon. Thanks but no thanks.

At the request of a local farm market owner who runs all kinds of special tours to schools, I designed an entire fun lesson packet. It contained all kinds of activities to teach kids about farming, planting, vegetables and animals on the farm. I spent hours on the worksheets, puzzles, and stories. When it was all done, I delivered it to her door and sent computer files of it. Weeks went by and I heard nothing. Not a word. I had no idea how my efforts were received. Finally, I contacted the farm owner. Only then did she tell me she really liked it, and then sent me the payment for my work.  The money was nice, but I certainly would have liked some feedback for all the effort I'd put in without soliciting it. I wasn't even sure she'd gotten the materials.

There's more I could add to my list but another such story comes from another friend. He had invited his family over for a picnic. Everyone accepted the invitation. He bought and prepared all kinds of food with chicken, ribs, burgers, hot dogs....the whole nine yards, enough for the entire clan.  About half the family showed up on time. The other family, with children was late. So late the food was getting cold, so the family there ate.  By the time the others happened to arrive, everyone else had eaten. Then, to his dismay, the latecomers informed him they'd decided to be vegetarians recently and proceeded to ask where the nearest grocery store was. They headed off to buy vegetables as the cooked meats just kind of sat there, uneaten.

Minor events in all our lives, but a pattern starts to emerge. There are those people who act when the time comes, in a timely manner.  Make a date with them to do something, and they'll show up on time, or call you to let you know there's a problem.  When we ran a community theatre years ago, my friend, I, and all the rest of the staff had an unwritten agreement:  If you promise to do something, do it. Don't make a promise you can't keep. Realize everyone else is relying on you to keep up your part of the job.  We stuck by the rules and ended up having a great working relationship.

But, not so in the rest of the world. How many times have you waited for someone who didn't show up? I worked with another friend on a project one time and he stood me up at least a half dozen times along the way. I even had a church organist show up two minutes before a wedding where I was singing the solos. Not only did we miss the warm up, but he'd managed to lose his copy of my music--the only copy with the accompaniment.  At the last minute, I did manage to find a replacement song to sing in that slot.  It wasn't the perfect solution, but because I'd managed to have at least one song in my "bag of tricks" to use, we saved the day.

Ask me for a favor, and if I agree, I'll go out of my way for you. I'll be there when you want me to be there. I'll uphold my part of the bargain.

Wish everyone thought that way.

OK, rant over. I tripped over the harrow when I was feeding the horses tonight. I guess it just got on my nerves.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Toby Report

Vet Visit

Dr. Parisio was out to see Toby, and he looked just fine.

While she found nothing wrong with him, he did have a bit of a pulse in one front foot.  She took X-rays to be sure there was no laminitic rotation--none, and did say he has thin soles. That is not a surprise either--he is a Thoroughbred.

At any rate, I will probably have him shod and I will be keeping him off the grass during the day when the sugar content is highest.

Since he has Cushings--being treated with pergolide--he is prone to laminitis. He's had it before, so this could just be some sensitivity.

I usually do not have a lot of grass. I do not feed my pasture and normally, it's just kind of "nibble" stuff.  This summer, however, we have had a lot of rain and the grass just keep growing everywhere. Even my sand riding arena--I've not been riding, so it's just kind of going to nature--looks like pasture so some degree.

So, if the Boys get turned out, they can graze.

Speaking of rain, despite the forecast, we had more rain tonight. My Township was supposed to have its fireworks. Not sure if we did or not. I fell asleep on the couch sometime before 8 PM and didn't wake up again until after 2 AM.  Now, it's 4 AM and I am wide awake. (The perils of retirement) Usually, I hear the booming when there are fireworks displays, so I am suspicious they may have been canceled.

I don't go to the fireworks any more. I really don't like the crowds. Instead, I drive up to the Turnpike bridge to watch from a distance. Sometimes I can see four or five displays all at once. This year, though, that may not be since towns seem to be having their shows on different days.  Apparently, if a town chooses to have fireworks on days other than the 4th of July itself, there is a substantial discount. Again, I suspect my town chose July 2, as it was the lowest priced option. Friday and Saturday would be more popular days and the fireworks companies would likely charge more.

At any rate, I may have missed some last night--or not.